Monday, February 28, 2011

a time to keep sience and a time to speak

So writes the author of Ecclesiastes in the Hebrew Scriptures, a remarkable philosopher who invites his hearers to ask themselves, 'what is the shape and purpose of my life?' It's an invitation to put first things first.

In chapter 3 there are a list of 'times' including 'a time to keep silence and a time to speak' v 7. Keeping silence as surrender, as listening and as making space to reflect on what shapes our society and the powerful forces that allow only certain voices to be heard. These are voices that uphold the status quo.

One of the silences that must be broken is those who are silenced through violence and I am thinking especially of women experiencing violence in their homes as well as those adults that experienced violence, spiritual or mental assualt during vulnerable childhood years.

I remember a few years ago working with a woman who had been repeatedly sexually abused as a teenager in her foster home.  As we worked towards her talking to the police I took her out in her imagination another 10 years in the future. Her voice changed and became deeper and more confident and she shared with me what had happened in her life since speaking to the police. When we came back to the present her voice changed back to being hardly able to speak. Such silencing under the bondage of shame and secrecy is life destroying and life denying but she had found courage to go to the police and find her voice.

Philosophers of Silence create space for individuals to find their authentic voice and claim their place within the community.  The fruit of true silence is human flourishing and abundance.

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